Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

Coming of Age as a Community

Mon, 04/20/2009 - 10:50 -- rprice

4 years ago, I had just been away from "home" for a year, having just graduated with my Digital Media degree, ready to go out and cause some riots -- but I had no employable skills, no professional network, and very little job experience. Moving away from my comfort zone was difficult, and I decided to move back within 50 miles of where I grew up.

I had been having a stellar year in the frozen midwest, and Detroit's creative community was very welcoming and bustling. I loved Ann Arbor and was making good connections, but I didn't see the benefits of that locality over... any other.

So I came back, and, after a fashion, kicked a few tires on the local community, deemed it non-existent, and went about trying to find the likeminded, self-starting folks we would need to build Orlando into something unbelievably awesome.

Getting started was slow, but I didn't give up, and I soon realized there were dozens of independent, autonomous, "scenes", but very little to join them outside of a few key Connectors and the local Weekly paper.

I decided to emulate one of the most successful and engaging events I had seen - but wait, I had nothing, knew nobody, and had no reputation. No success to measure against. How does one go about causing an explosion with sparks alone?

One stick of dynamite at a time. You're going to drop a few on the way to the mine shaft (did I mention you have to dig the mineshaft too, and you can't be in two places at once, and you have to teach yourself everything, and try to maintain your regular work, family and social lives the entire time?

We've now had our third (fourth) BarCamp in Orlando, and it's clear that our tech/creative scene has matured. No hand-holding, no rule-setting, just a well-oiled machine rolling down the tracks we've laid over the last 3 years. It's a great feeling. It doesn't happen without lots of hard work and effort, but when we get rolling, it feels pretty darn good.

What's the next step? If you ask me, it will be connecting our autonomous scene with all the others - locally, state-wide, and internationally. Some inroads have been made, but more formal connections can be built, and those can only be solidified with collaboration (in my mind).

We've all got wonderful communities (where we belong, and people listen to us). Let's bring them in, and tell them how much we admire them, because they're good at what they do. Then let's create something together - a film, an event, a manifesto, or let's share our knowledge. We're comfortable doing this among our own kind. It's time to leave the nest.

We have a happy hour coming up tonight. Let's make some plans.


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BarCamp people can Learn from Dead Chickens

Mon, 04/13/2009 - 07:34 -- rprice

While I was at DrupalCon DC I went to a session about how to give a presentation. Emma Jane Hogbin had a slide where she was talking about different presentation styles, and she brought up "Selena talks dead chickens". With some creative googling, I discovered that the presentation was from Ignite Portland, and that someone had videotaped it.

This is why you have to love events like Pecha Kucha Night and Ignite - people will present on any subject, as long as it fits the time limit. At the same time, they are almost always very personal and gripping.

We have a BarCamp coming up in Orlando this weekend, and I'm really looking forward to what everyone comes up with this year. While I will really enjoy yet another OAuth session, I'm wondering who will be the "dead chickens" of #barcamporlando.


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This is so much more interesting than TV

Sat, 03/28/2009 - 11:13 -- rprice

I'm sure it helps that it's Demi Moore's qik account, and that Bruce Willis is in the shot ("Are you twittering?"), but I find stuff like this to be greater than 95% of the content on television, and therefore I don't feel the least bit bad about not having seen any in the last few years.

EDIT: I'm not sure exactly how I'd categorize the next live video I encountered today, but probably still more interesting than television... Love ya, Randall!
Live Streaming by Ustream.TV


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Know Your Creatives: Josh Blount

Tue, 03/24/2009 - 13:30 -- rprice

Josh Blount, originally uploaded by

Yes, it's that time again! (for the first time?) Meet a Geek, Florida Creatives Spotlight, Local Heroes, Real Men of Genius, or just plain old Blog Tag! Today's Culprit is Mount Dora's own Joshua Blount, or @stickwithjosh.

I first met Josh on the interwebs - probably the BarCamp Orlando mailing list, or Coworking Orlando, or one of those. He's generally involved in lots of local stuff, and we have only seen the beginning, I'm sure.

On Josh's blog, you can find some useful writing about design, usability, Mac stuff, and a few posts related to Josh's job at Canonical, Inc, the guys who bring you such awesome tools as the Ubuntu flavor of Linux. I also found this post about the Bazaar (bzr) version control system helpful.

Josh is just one of the Canonical Software guys in Central Florida, don't ya know? We've also got Elliot Murphy and Phil Fibiger (congrats on the new job, Phil!) who represent the Ubuntu/Launchpad/etc/awesomeness, and for all I know, they're just the beginning.

Josh is also active with (organizes?) the Orlando Python User Group, or @opug. Among the exploits of OPUG are the pending wiki-fication of the BarCamp Orlando website, completion date TBD.

Josh, consider yourself tagged. Go and spread the good word of a creative peer who inspires you, and hopefully one who is from Florida. This message will self-destruct in 36 hours. Go.


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Try the Clip Show. You probably won't regret it!

Mon, 02/23/2009 - 09:39 -- rprice

Really. This is one of those shows I watch every single episode of, no matter how far behind I get. It's fantastic, and they review some awesome stuff.

For example, here is their 2008 Year in Review episode:


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DrupalCon DC, DrupalEasy Podcast

Sat, 02/21/2009 - 07:50 -- rprice

In less than two weeks, I and a few of my geeky Drupal friends will be jetting up to DC for a massive gathering of Drupallers larger than the world has ever seen.

With well over 1,200 tickets sold, this will be almost one-half larger than any previous Drupal convention. I'm hoping to see some folks I met in New Orleans and make some new friends.

Mike, Andrew and I will be there promoting our Drupal Easy Training, one of the ventures of our new project. To date, we have released a bunch of blog posts and one podcast.

The podcast has already been mentioned in a poll about future DrupalCons and on Dries' twitter.

Listen to DrupalEasy 01: "Dries for President":

You can subscribe to it in iTunes (search for DrupalEasy) or you can get the latest episodes from the DrupalEasy website.

Also, if your going to be at DrupalCon DC and you want to be a guest on the podcast please contact Andrew so he can set up a time. I will have the N96, and Mike will have a Flip camera, so we'll probably be doing some conference videos as well.

P.S. I'm still looking for a room in DC - if you know of anything, I'm game!


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WANT! Nokia N97

Tue, 02/17/2009 - 07:40 -- rprice

Still the best camera of any "smartphone". AT&T or T-Mobile should really start carrying these things...


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Howto: Yahoo Pipes Auto-retweet recipe for Twitter

Tue, 02/03/2009 - 11:45 -- rprice

I have 5 or 6 twitter accounts, and some of them are only meant to serve as a discovery point for a blog, podcast, or community. That's why I cooked up this little pipe recipe to auto-retweet around two possible keywords, but NOT to retweet my own retweets if I did so from another account. Get it? Well, I'll explain:

Yahoo! Pipes is a free, web-based, visual programming environment. Those of you familiar with node-based editors like Shake or some other graphics and sound programs will feel right at home. Each "module" represents an input or output, or most importantly, ways to process and filter data as it travels through the pipeline. Pipes takes as input just about any feed or structured data - in this case, the river of tweets from a particular user's friends.

It's pretty easy to register for Pipes and create a new pipe. When you're done, you get a big blank piece of graph paper, and the list of sources, operators and other junk you can drop in on the left side.

Fetch Feed The first thing you need to do is go ahead and grab the twitter feed. In the left sidebar you want to find Sources > Fetch Feed and drag it on to the working area. In addition to the url to your friends list, you have to provide your username and password, because Twitter's API requires authentication.

Like this:

At this point, if you take the output from the Fetch Feed module to the Pipe Output module, you have a working Pipe. But what you want to do here is filter out results based on certain keywords, so the output can be used to help you track a conversation.

Filter keyword 1 and yourself The next module you'll want to take a look at is under Operators > Filter. Drag this one out and take a look - this one reminds me of the Smart Mailbox rules in, and it works in much the same way.

In this case we are going to:

Permit items that match all of the following Rules
item.title Contains fringe
item.title Does not contain bloggingfringe:

What does this mean?

  1. The first rule just pulls out tweets that contain a single word or phrase you're looking for - in this case, "fringe".
  2. The second rule filters out tweets by a particular user. In this case, the username contains the word you're filtering on, so you try to take that into account.

Again, you could connect the Fetch Feed to the Filter, and then to the Pipe Output and have a working version of the Pipe. In fact, I ran the pipe like this for a long time without anything else. But this is a two-keyword tutorial, and there are some other tricks I'd like to show you.

The next phase of your retweeting script is going to prepare the text of the tweets so they give a link back to the original author. You'll also remove a few precious characters by removing your own username from an @reply.

RSS and Atom documents coming out of your twitter friends feed give the title and body of each item the following format:
liberatr: @bloggingfringe I think it's really cool how you're retweeting our posts about fringe automatically!
This is the format you're going to pay attention to when you apply some simple regular expression replacement to the titles.

To give all of the retweets a more trational RT @user message format, you're going to grab the Operators > Regex module next. There are two rules you'll use:

In item.title replace : @bloggingfringe with :
In item.title replace ^ with RT @

Regex Rules

  1. On the first rule, we are just cleaning things up in the case of a reply. Check i to ignore capitalization, so the rule matches @bloggingFringe or @BloggingFringe as well.
  2. The second rule just adds a few letters to the beginning of the outgoing tweet.

Adding the second keyword

At any given time, there are other cultural events happening, not just fringe, so you might like to make two pipes, one pipe to track each event. If both keywords are going to the same account, you can use the Split and Union operators to apply different kinds of filters.

You need to use Split and Union in this case because your filtering has too many AND and OR questions:
If someone is tweeting about "fringe" AND it wasn't written by @bloggingfringe, OR
If someone is tweeting about "arts fest" OR "artsfest" AND not "fringe"

It's important to add the "and not fringe" to the end, because we don't want tweets appearing twice if someone mentions artsfest and fringe in the same tweet.

I'm going to gloss over a few steps here, because they are simple, and you've already done a few just like these: Filters for the second keyword

  1. Create two new Filter modules
  2. The first filter looks for your keywords, in my example the word could have spaces in it, so I needed a whole filter to spell out each variation
  3. The second filter makes sure you're not duplicating tweets in the final pipe output
  4. Put the Split operator at the very top, just after Fetch Feed. attach one of the outputs to the very first Filter and the second to the new keyword Filter.
  5. Put the Union operator just above your Regex operator from before, with your two filtering decision trees going into the top, and the output from the Union going to the Regex, and that module's output the the Pipe Output.

Retweet Filter The last rule you're going to apply is one final Filter module. Since you're retweeting any tweet that mentions these keywords you care about, you may end up catching some retweets yourself, if your friends decide to share what you wrote. In the example, I have this filter appearing in between the Union and Regex modules, but you could also put this at the very top, above the Split.

Block items that match any of the following Rules
item.title Contains RT @bloggingfringe
item.title Contains Retweeting @bloggingfringe

Finishing Up

Once you get all your filters connected, splits and unions, regular expressions, feeds and outputs in order, you should have something that looks like this:
Pipe Recipe for Twitter: Auto-retweet
Please note the output (in the gray area at the bottom), and how it took the original tweet and just added 4 text characters to the beginning, adding a bit of context.

Now you have to make sure you Save your pipe, and finally click the link at the top saying Run Pipe... The only thing I want to warn you about is Publishing your pipe. Please remember that your twitter password is in there!

Pipes will format your output as RSS or JSON (or serialized PHP objects), as well as hooking into your favorite RSS aggregator and Yahoo! Alerts. As if that wasn't enough, think about all the RSS-to-Twitter applications that exist. My personal favorite is - which is a free service, but I encourage you to donate a few bucks via PayPal, because it's just a fantastic thing to do!
Edit: also check out the excellent TweetBots, another way to get feeds to twitter, but it also has auto-follow and a cool way to allow multiple people to update the account using direct messages.

Gotcha: Make sure you select "Title only" in twitterfeed's interface, or the first few words of short tweets may be repeated!

I'm sure there are lots of other ways to filter your friends' tweets, and tons of ways to create a retweeting service, but this is one that works for me, and I just wanted to share with anyone looking for a little help.

Update: Double-retweeting
Since retweeting is so widespread, you may come across several instances where you are retweeting a retweet. Most times this will be pretty innocuous, but if you get into a situation where several of the people you're following retweet the same message, it's probably best to avoid those.

Example of the bad behavior:

RT @Obsessionful: I have been retweeted by @VociDance and @bloggingfringe. I'm awesome. xP: Obsessionful: I have..

RT @VociDance: RT @Obsessionful: "I think the thing getting me through this mountain of homework is the fact tha..

RT @Obsessionful: I think the thing getting me through this mountain of homework is the fact that Arts Fest is t..

No need to retweet it a second time.

Therefore, add one last Filter module just before the Pipe Output.
Double Retweet

Block items that match any of the following Rules
item.title Matches regex RT.*RT

That should take care of most double retweets.

After I first made this script, I was thinking about setting up two accounts that just retweet each other all day, and call them "echo" and "chamber"...

RT @echo RT @chamber RT @echo RT @chamber RT @echo RT @chamber RT @echo RT @chamber RT @echo RT @chamber RT @echo RT @chamber RT @echo RT...

You get the idea...


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